Blazers show grace under pressure

Feb. 26, 2005, midnight | By Ellie Blalock | 15 years, 11 months ago

Girls basketball outplays Quince Orchard, advances to second round of regionals


After so many sure-bets that turned into heart-breakingly close losses during the regular season, the Blair girls basketball team hoped to prove themselves worthy as they began their playoff run. They hoped to prove themselves to be what they really are: a group of talented players who have the ability to gel on court and make things happen in pressure situations.

That is why the Blazers deserved this 57-48 win so much. At half-time, the twelfth seeded Quince Orchard Cougars had caught up to Blair, despite the Blazers' early lead, as a result of their success at the foul line and the fact that Blair, desperate to keep hold of their lead, was committing foul after foul. The crowd was roaring with every shot each team made, and Blair coach James Mogge was alternating between pacing up and down the sideline, burying his face in his hands and shouting encouragement to his team.

All of this made for a tense atmosphere for the girls, who in the past have buckled in tie games and in tough, over-time situations. Yet they would not let anything get to them. The Blazers knew they could pull off a win, and came back on the court ready to do some damage. Senior co-captain Vicky Dean sank a three-pointer in only the second minute, which when added to the other shots by seniors Jawana Henderson, Brittany Higgins and Monique Eldridge and junior Cate Rassman gave the Blazers a six point advantage going into the fourth quarter, which they would continue to dominate.

The game began positively for the Blazers, who started Dean, Eldridge, Henderson, Higgins and Rassman. The Blazers would out-shoot Quince Orchard by two field goals, displaying excellent accuracy and shooting range. Higgins was the biggest contributor during the period, with eight points over-all. That said, the Cougars were making it easy for Blair, throwing up almost constant air-balls despite two three-pointers in the seventh minute. Higgins would get the last word, though, scoring a two-pointer in the final minute to give Blair a 15-10 lead going into the second quarter.

Blair let up their tough defense in a big way in the second period, allowing Quince Orchard too much time under the net by not grabbing the defensive rebounds they needed. Such lax defense, bad luck at the free-throw line and timid shot-making allowed Quince Orchard to come within one point of Blair in the third minute. Fortunately, Dean delivered a three-pointer at the three-minute mark and then another 30 seconds later to give Blair some breathing room. Still, the Blazers had to rely on points scored in the first quarter to stay alive, as Quince Orchard outscored them in the second quarter to bring the half-time score to a 25-25 tie.

The third quarter would turn out to be the defining moment for Blair, as the Blazers gradually took back their hard-fought lead and played scrappy basketball, knowing that if they didn't, Quince Orchard could easily win a game Blair deserved. Quince Orchard was not dying, however, even after Dean's third three-pointer of the game. Blair kept their defense tough, and made confident, successful shots. The cougars would add a three-pointer with only 30 seconds left, but Blair was still ahead by six points (40-34), as they headed into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter was dominated by Blazer foul shots, as Quince Orchard was visibly getting desperate and more aggressive on defense. Blair sank 11 of 19 possible free-throws, which when added to three field goals from Henderson and Rassman gave Blair 17 points for the quarter, the most they would score in any one period, showing that they had gained momentum as well as confidence during the match-up. Quince Orchard had done the opposite, and as the clock wound down they were simply flinging the ball errantly at the net. The Blazers deserved this closely-fought contest, and will hopefully carry the confidence they earned into the quarterfinals of the 4A West Region Tournament.

Blair (the fifth seed), will next face either Whitman or Wootton (the fourth and thirteenth seeds, respectively) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1. The team with the highest seeding will host the game at home.

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Ellie Blalock. Ellie is a SENIOR in the CAP program at Blair. She enjoys such activities as traveling, being able to say "water" in six languages and having heart-to-heart chats with eccentric politicians. If you're in need of a laugh, please ask Ellie about her driving … More »

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